Tham Pla National Park Travel Guide

If unusual caves intrigue you, then you’ll want to check out Tham Pla, a sacred cavern with a river running through it that is home to hundreds of huge carp fish.

Located in the far northern mountains of Thailand, Tham Pla is special because the locals do not catch the soro brook carp, which are considered sacred. Since they don’t get caught and eaten for dinner, some of them live long enough to grow up to three feet long.

The locals believe the fish are vegetarians, and there are vendors selling little bags of fruit and vegetables at the entrance of the park to feed to the fish. A path leads to a suspension bridge that crosses the river and heads to the cave. The fish can be observed through a six square foot hole in the rock. The only downside is you can’t enter the cave and explore it.

Interestingly, a statue of the Hindu deity Nara stands at the entrance of the cave. Nara is said to protect the holy fish from danger. There’s not much else to see at the park, but the grounds are very pastoral and relaxing. There are picnic areas and vendors selling local snacks.

Getting There & Away

Tham Pla National Park is located 17kms northeast of Mae Hong Son off of highway 1095. The easiest way to reach the park is to rent a car or scooter in Mae Hong Son or Pai and drive yourself. Buses heading to Pai pass by the entrance to the park’s road if you want to really rough it. There are airports in both Mae Hong Son and Pai with flights to and from Bangkok and Chiang Mai respectively.